The Presidio Museum was an idea that took decades to come to fruition. Beginning in the mid-1980s, members of the Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation led by their President, Lewis Hall, were lobbying City leaders to fund a reconstruction of a portion of the fort.
It was not until 1999 when voters approved an initiative to create a tax-increment financing (TIF) district to fund cultural assets in downtown that the dream began to look realistic. The first step was archaeological excavations beneath the parking lot at W. Washington Street and N. Church Avenue, searching for remnants of the Presidio. The work was conducted by Desert Archaeology, Inc., directed by Homer Thiel.
The archaeological excavation revealed an Archaic era pit-house (this was conveniently located and was incorporated into the final exhibit site plan), the foundation of the corner of the original Presidio and a number of objects ranging from Early Agricultural Period spear points, decorated Hohokam pottery, Spanish musket balls, and Territorial period dishes and dolls. Excavation was completed in 2006.
Construction of the re-built Presidio was overseen by Eric Means Constructions and followed that of the original structure. It included a 20 foot tall adobe tower (torreon) and 13ft high adobe walls. Additional features included displays of a soldier barracks, a family dwelling and a blacksmithing site.
To provide a view into the remainder of what the 11-acre presidio would have looked like a large mural was painted on the south wall. The mural was painted by Tucson artist Bill Singleton and his sons.
As part of the reconstruction, the Siqueiros-Jacome House, a classic Sonoran Row House, was restored. This house was built in the 1860s and 1870s. Today its rooms house the Museum’s gift shop and exhibits.
Learn more about the Presidio excavation here.